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Pakistan... surprised by how many tourists...

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I've just returned to Dubai from a quick business trip to northern Pakistan. A significant change since my last visit, only ten weeks ago, was the numbers of western tourists being bused around countryside which is not the most secure region on the planet nor an obvious holiday destination. I'm not talking about backpackers, who have always visited the northern provinces regardless of the political or security situation. The several groups I bumped into were late middle-aged and seemed fairly affluent. I don't know why I should think that such groups would present anymore of a target for extremists than me, the shear numbers I guess, plus the fact that they are conveniently grouped together inside buses.

Most visitors to the region (including me in the past) are drawen to the fantastic vistas of the western himalaya and hindu kush in which are located, I think, 8 of the world's 14 highest peaks. The chance to treck in their foothills is a clear attraction for outdoor enthusiasts globally, but the visitors I'm describing don't fit in this category and it's hard for me to understand, given current regional instability, just what is the attraction.

I'd be interested in anyone else's take on why the region should have recently increased in popularity for the 'mature money' segment.

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